I Know Who I Am! – As You Were

As You Were – looking for connections between the work of Brené Brown and Daniel Quinn as I revisit them in book clubs. See the introductory post for what this is all about. In this post, I look at:

  • Daniel Quinn Book Club — A Newcomer’s Guide to the Afterlife, session 2 reading: Chapter Three: Neighbors in the Afterlife through Chapter the Last: In Which Lies Are Exposed!
  • Brené Brown Book Club — no current reading

(Commissions earned on Amazon links.)

A Newcomer’s Guide to the Afterlife

Note: This “little book” may seem on the surface little more than a lark. It’s clearly far more obviously fictional than the Ishmael trilogy which is fictional only on the surface, not in its substance. Any fiction, though, speaks to an author’s larger view of people and the world, and both science fiction and speculative fiction have a long history of embedding social commentary, so I feel it’s fair game for seeking connections to real-world notions.

Chapter Three: Neighbors in the Afterlife

“Let’s be clear about the situation here: It is simply a fact that in the Afterlife no one needs to impress anyone or make a living or get ahead or scurry to get as much out of life as possible. These are things that death has put behind us forever. People adjust to this reality in various ways, but most of them adjust to it in ways that make them subdued, self-absorbed, and more or less oblivious to their neighbors’ actions or opinions.” Compare Brené’s Guidepost on play and rest over productivity and exhaustion.

“Indeed, the very notion of normalcy is virtually meaningless in the Afterlife.
“Many of those who strike newcomers as lunatics are simply old hands who long ago gave up caring what anyone thinks of them. They may have been extremely conventional people in life, but here they caper and bray and declaim and cavort, as pleases them. Before long, as inhibitions wither, you may well find yourself doing the same.” Compare Brené on authenticity, on avoiding comparison, on staying “awkward, brave and kind,” on the “wild heart.”

“It takes real presence of mind and strength of character to instantly begin to shout out, ‘I know who I am! I know who I am! until you’re free of the panic-stricken crowd, but nothing works better (and may inspire others around you to save themselves as well).” Compare Brené on authenticity — on the challenge of it in an inauthentic world, and on it inspiring others to their own authenticity.

Chapter Four: The Afterlife as a Habitat

“One day in the early 1960s (it is said) a newcomer interrupted [Vincent van Gogh] at work to say that he, the newcomer, had recently acquired a van Gogh at auction for more than two million dollars. The artist (who sold only one painting in his entire lifetime) regarded the speaker with a piercing stare, laid down his tools, and walked away, never to return again. It is a fact that the cache of van Goghs left behind amounted to more than seventeen thousand canvasses.” Compare Brené on creativity wounds in which external opinions lead people to abandon intrinsically satisfying creative activities.

“It appears that those who are most keen for the arts in the Afterlife are those whose artistic ambitions went unfulfilled in life. Since no one needs to ‘make a living,’ there is little sense of ‘professionalism’ in the arts here.” Compare Brené’s Guidepost on creativity over comparison.

Chapter Five: Religions of the Afterlife


Chapter the Last: In Which Lies Are Exposed!

“The Afterlife is Hell.
“In your heart-of-hearts you knew that, didn’t you?
“On the other hand, it is no less true to say that…
“The Afterlife is Heaven
“Gradually an altogether new vision of Heaven and Hell began to emerge: Heaven and Hell were not places to which people were sent in death. Heaven and Hell were places people chose — in life…
“Hell is all that they know — all that they ever know. If they wanted to, they could abandon Hell tomorrow — as they might have done in life… if they’d wanted to.
“But the Afterlife is also full of people who made their life on earth a Heaven. They brought Heaven with them, and wherever they are is Heaven.” Compare shame-based non-Wholehearted lives vs. Wholehearted lives.

“There on your right, Heaven springs past, singing — a lunatic, a little too much for civilized contact.
“Just the way it always was.” Compare Brené on the “wild heart.”

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